The debate regarding the slave trade has been largely hijacked by the anti-imperialist and, supposedly, anti-racist (Corbynite) left who seek to pile the sins of the world, past as well as present, on Britain, the US, NATO, the West and, of course, Israel whilst ignoring aggressive expansionist nations such as Russia and China.
Amongst their favourite descriptions of their opponents are, of course, imperialist and racist – we’ve all seen how anyone concerned about immigration is, automatically, racist, no wonder the working classes have deserted Labour and reached the Conservatives via Farage.
Anti-black racism is at the top of their hierarchy – Jews are white (even the black ones!) and prosperous, so are oppressors, not the oppressed – so they concentrate on the transatlantic slave trade which they see as a consequence of imperialism and racism.
Although peripheral to this piece it must be noted that the transatlantic trade was just part of a long – and extremely unsavoury – history. By the time Europeans – initially the Portuguese in the 15th Century – started exploring down the west coast of Africa, Africans had been enslaved for centuries, if not millennia, through the existing markets to the north in the Mediterranean and east in the Indian Ocean. Africans undertook the initial enslaving and the first transaction was an African selling another African. Africans also became wealthy as part of the process.
Slavery has been around for millennia and depends upon one thing, owning and having complete control over another human being is either permitted, or not forbidden, in a particular society/culture. When British abolitionists started what was to be a long, but ultimately successful, campaign it was uncertain as to whether slavery was legal, or not, in Britain.
The Romans and Nazis, amongst others, enslaved many – but didn’t discriminate – and for long periods of history those defeated in a war expected to be enslaved. The image of a white holding a whip over a black is only part of a very large picture.
Clearly racism can be involved, the obvious way to oppose abolitionists is to try and demonstrate that the enslaved are inferior and deserving of enslavement but it’s important to realise that whilst slavery and racism can go together, ether can exist without the other.
As part of the leftist assault on everything we hold dear, “Rule Britannia” is now under attack, the contentious line being:
“Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”
It was even contended by a contributor to that bastion of impartial and balanced reporting, Radio 4’s “Today” programme, that as it dates from 1740 – when Britain was involved in the transatlantic slave trade – it referred to others, not Britons, being slaves.
Let’s go back to the era from which “Rule Britannia” dates and look at both of the first two lines:
“Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”
Too many lefties and BBC producers (is there a difference?) have either a selective, or even reversed, knowledge of history – think of the “wrong kind of socialism” argument!
The origins of the modern Royal Navy lie, at least partly, in the need to deal with piracy. Britain has long been a maritime trading nation and too many merchant ships and their cargoes were being lost to pirates. The merchants paid some more tax which financed a larger navy, fewer ships were lost and, before you know it, you’re in a virtuous circle.
“White slavery” conjures up a scantily clad blond on cushions in an oriental harem on the lurid cover of a cheap paperback novel. But for many centuries it wasn’t fiction, rather a horrific reality for many Britons – and others – and a threat hanging over more.
The Barbary Coast was at the western end of the North African coast – modern Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia – and for centuries the home of pirates who ranged far and wide, including the eastern North Atlantic as far north as Iceland, enslaving those they could capture from ships and coastal settlements. The intensity increased in the 16th century and was not finally eliminated until the 19th Century.
When “Rule Britannia” was composed Britons had been taken and enslaved for well over a century, but the power of the Royal Navy was increasing, and this provides a perfect context.
The BBC may be broadcasting this fine piece without the lyrics, but that doesn’t stop us adding them in our living rooms!